Monday, August 15, 2011

Avalon Code's Spirits' Weakness

So. Elemental spirits. Not exactly a new concept in RPGs. Seems everywhere you turn in this genre, some sentient, magical embodiment of something or other is jumping out at you, forcing you to go on quests, screaming plot into your ears, and offering to loan its powers out to passersby with all the discretion of a 50-cent hooker.

Avalon Code has a pretty typical set of elemental spirits to it. You've got one for Fire, one for Ice, one for Lightning, and one for Nature. Granted, most games will have spirits for things like Wind and Earth and so on before they get around to Nature, but other than that, it's pretty standard stuff. They advise the protagonist on where to go through the plot, they know the magical history of their world, they can be summoned for major attacks, they look vaguely know, same old, same old. There's just one thing that sets them apart: their weakness.

Now, an elemental spirit having a weakness isn't uncommon. It'll usually be attacks of the opposite element. You know the drill...Water spirits get electrocuted by Lightning magic, Light elementals aren't fond of Dark attacks, and you can fuck Final Fantasy 8's Ifrit's shit up good with Shiva the Ice lady. Poor, stupid Ifrit. These weaknesses make sense. Or at least, as much sense as elemental weaknesses ever make in RPGs.*

The Avalon Code elemental spirits, however, are a little different. Their weakness isn't their opposite element. No. Their weakness is water.

Yes. Water.

Allow me to clarify. I don't mean powerful Water magic, like you'd usually use against a Fire elemental or something. I mean a small amount of H2O. And I don't mean that it hurts them. I mean it completely disables them. You get an Avalon Code elemental spirit wet, and it is powerless. You could seriously, no exaggeration, POUR A GLASS OF WATER on one and it would be rendered utterly ineffectual.

It's all about lazy writing, of course, as so many problems I rant on boil down to in the end. The writers want the hero taken down at certain points in the plot, the hero's always got those little elemental spirits hanging around him/her, so the spirits have to be taken down each time, too. How will the writers do that? Well, they COULD employ some creativity and come up with some tactical means of defeating the spirits--or they COULD give all 4 the same weakness and make it something that can be easily obtained by any of the people disabling the hero. That way the writers can use the same means of spirit nullification each time and not have to worry about...what was it, again? That thing they're paid to do? Oh, yeah...THINKING. And so, the avatars of all the planet's natural energies, the gods of the elements of life, are easily conquered by anyone with a spray bottle.

But let us consider this in depth. Let us wrap our minds around this phenomenon.

The elemental spirits that embody and maintain the natural forces of the whole world are weak to water. Now, I'm not sure how much of Avalon Code's world is covered with water--maybe they aren't 70% ocean the way Earth is. But even if water only covers 10% of Avalon Code's world's surface, you're talking about one of the most common and simple chemical compounds in the universe. You're talking about a substance that every living organism on the planet needs to have reliable access to in order to survive. The spirits of the powers of all creation, able to raise blazing infernos, rain lightning storms upon the land, freeze the world in huge blizzards...are rendered totally helpless if you splash them with a liquid that any and every person in the world can obtain.

And then there's the elemental side of it. I mean, okay, I get that the spirit of Fire can be beaten by some water. I really think the corporeal essence of combustion should be able to withstand having a wet sponge wrung out over his head, but we'll let it go. Why is the Lightning spirit as weak to water? Why does the NATURE spirit get knocked on her ass by a light sprinkle? I mean, the existence of the watering can would indicate that a little H20 falling on a plant isn't terribly detrimental to it. And while it's been a while since I took a Biology course, I seem to remember that plants, much like every other living thing, need water to LIVE. So I'm not sure why the spiritual embodiment of them is knocked on her ass by anyone holding a squirt gun. And that's just going on the assumption that "Nature" just means plant life, as the game implies. If you expand that idea to include a general view of the basic environmental world, water's a PART of that.

And hey, how about the ICE spirit? It's also been a while since I took a Physics or Chemistry course, but if I do recall correctly, ice. Is. WATER. The Ice spirit's kryptonite is ice at room temperature. She is weak to herself.

Oh, and incidentally, you know how I've been "exaggerating" for comical effect thus far the small amount of water it would take to disable these spirits? I have not really been exaggerating all that much. I mean, there is a scene in the damn game where a character takes down the spirits with the water contained in a...pail? Bucket? Glass? I don't remember exactly what the container is--I actually do think it might have been a glass. But it's an easily carried container for liquid that only contains a comparatively small amount of water--and it's enough to take down all 4 creatures of arcane elemental power at once.

By God, this is SO DUMB.

* Why IS Fire so weak to Ice in these games, anyway? I understand Fire being weak to Water, cuz, y'know, water actually puts fire out in real life, but Ice? Fire melts ice in real life; ice only really beats fire AFTER it's melted into water. You can make a fire in freezing temperatures without much extra trouble so long as you have the materials to do so. Fire's second weakness should be Earth, not Ice. You pile a heap of dirt and sand and rocks and such on top of a fire, that'll put it out--hell, it's more reliable than water, even, cuz water won't stop a grease fire. Oh well.


  1. Please tell me this Avalon Code is a blatant parody of painful RPG tropes. I don't care if it's not the truth. Lie to me. Water buckets, what the hell.

    At least Pokemon is notable for placing Fire above Ice (and below Earth!) in the elemental food chain. I don't recall much of anything else, though. Maybe a few Final Fantasy equips?

  2. Nope, this is totally meant to be legitimate. To be fair, the game is otherwise...well, I can't really say "good," but "fairly okay" seems a safe assessment. It has its mild streak of creativity with its general premise, at least. But yeah, this part is kinda awkwardly bad.

  3. If I remember correctly, it`s a glass of water(or some liquid since they`re celebrating). Although it wasn`t water poured on the spirits themselves, it was poured on the book.
    I don`t know bout you, but I wouldn`t read a wet book; it`d fall apart/ink would run/page`d tear, by word of logic.
    I think it`s meant to suggest the spirits are merely part of the book, despite their power. They do show numerous tendencies to not be bound by the laws of physics, but then, yea: "Spirits" of the book.

    I have to agree with you though lol, it is rather lazy, for such a good game, anything else could`ve been better I think, although I think that was the most logical thing they could come up with.

  4. You know, that's not an unfair assessment, and it seems to put this issue in a slightly better light...but in certain ways, it makes it even more stupid. I mean, if the book that contains all the power of creation for a new world is susceptible to water damage, does that mean that it's just as vulnerable as any book is to anything? Because that seems dumb in a whole new way; why wouldn't it have some kind of magical defense, given its incredible nature and importance? And this also makes the spirits even MORE weak and ineffectual in general, since instead of having to get each of the 4 of them wet to take them down, now you only have to get 1 object wet to conquer all of them. I also still think that their elemental natures' weaknesses and strengths should come into play, even if it is the book getting dampened.

    And so, my conclusion is that it is still equally dumb, and an equally lazy plot device, as I had originally stated. Thanks for clarifying something I'd misremembered and offering a new theory, though.